The Kalman filter, also known as linear quadratic estimation (LQE), is an algorithm that uses a series of measurements observed over time, containing statistical noise|noise (random variations) and other inaccuracies, and produces estimates of unknown variables that tend to be more precise than those based on a single measurement alone. More formally, the Kalman filter operates Recursion|recursively on streams of noisy input data to produce a statistically optimal estimation theory|estimate of the underlying State space (controls)|system state. The filter is named for Rudolf E. Kálmán|Rudolf (Rudy) E. Kálmán, one of the primary developers of its theory.
The Kalman filter has numerous Kalman_filter#Applications|applications in technology. A common application is for guidance, navigation and control (engineering)|guidance, navigation and control of vehicles, particularly aircraft and spacecraft. Furthermore, the Kalman filter is a widely applied concept in time series analysis used in fields such as signal processing and econometrics.
The algorithm works in a two-step process. In the prediction step, the Kalman filter produces estimates of the current state variables, along with their uncertainties. Once the outcome of the next measurement (necessarily corrupted with some amount of error, including random noise) is observed, these estimates are updated using a Weighted mean|weighted average, with more weight being given to estimates with higher certainty. Because of the algorithm's recursive nature, it can run in Real-time Control System|real time using only the present input measurements and the previously calculated state; no additional past information is required.
From a theoretical standpoint, the main assumption of the Kalman filter is that the underlying system is a linear dynamical system and that all error terms and measurements have a Gaussian distribution (often a multivariate Gaussian distribution).Extensions and generalizations to the method have also been developed, such as the extended Kalman filter and the Kalman filter#Unscented Kalman filter|unscented Kalman filter which work on nonlinear systems. The underlying model is a Bayesian model similar to a hidden Markov model but where the state space of the latent variables is continuous and where all latent and observed variables have Gaussian distributions.

The Kalman filter, also known as linear quadratic estimation (LQE), is an algorithm that uses a series of measurements observed over time, containing statistical noise|noise (random variations) and other inaccuracies, and produces estimates of unknown variables that tend to be more precise than those based on a single measurement alone. More formally, the Kalman filter operates Recursion|recursively on streams of noisy input data to produce a statistically optimal estimation theory|estimate of the underlying State space (controls)|system state. The filter is named for Rudolf E. Kálmán|Rudolf (Rudy) E. Kálmán, one of the primary developers of its theory.
The Kalman filter has numerous Kalman_filter#Applications|applications in technology. A common application is for guidance, navigation and control (engineering)|guidance, navigation and control of vehicles, particularly aircraft and spacecraft. Furthermore, the Kalman filter is a widely applied concept in time series analysis used in fi...